The Apple app store seems to be full of so called killer iPhone apps, but it’s usually not until you download and try them that you realize the longevity you thought existed does not. The same goes for iPhone games; I’ve downloaded both free and paid iPhone games only to find that the ones I thought would have longevity just didn’t, while others turned out to be real winners. One such app is a game for the iPhone called Galcon. When I downloaded the lite version of this a month ago it was the last game I thought I would become addicted too.
Galcon is probably one of the most simple games you can play on the iPhone. It’s basically a real time strategy, or better known to the gaming world as an RTS. Unlike traditional RTS games, this one is extremely simple, but rich with strategy and technique. This game has so much going for it. The games are super short, something that’s good for a phone based game. You can easily get off a few rounds while waiting for your streetcar or bus, especially if you live in Toronto. The best part is this game is multi-player even over 3G, and I think that’s what really makes it shine. You will probably tire of the AI quickly, it’s not very bright and every round feels the same, but even the AI in some of the greatest RTS games like StarCraft can be pretty flaky at times. Nothing beats real people, at least not yet, maybe someday.
So how do you play?
Basically the game has 2 to 4 game slots, but I really recommend having 3 or more players. The game does not always start off perfectly balanced for each player, which is actually pretty cool when there is more than 2 players, but when there are only two in the game, the victory will usually go to whoever has the most favourable starting position.
Galcon is a space RTS and the only goal is to claim as many planets as possible and annihilate your opponents, every last stinking one of them. When you start each player will have one large planet with 100 military units. Every unit is the same. You will be surrounded by different sized planets that are neutral each with a number on them. This number is the amount of neutral units you will have to conquer before you can lay claim to that planet. Obviously the first planets people go for are the ones with the lowest numbers and closest to them, but wait, there’s one caveat and that’s the planets size.
The larger your planet, the faster your units will replenish. Tiny planets replenish very slowly, while large ones replenish very fast. The player needs to weight the size vs the amount of units they must conquer. A tiny planet with 1 to 5 units is worth taking over, while a tiny planet with 45 or more units might not as it would take several minutes to replenish those forces. Yes, minutes matter in this game. It’s all about tactics and speed of execution.
Describing the games crack like addiction is hard, but every game is unique. Just when you think you have the upper hand another player will begin to attack you while you attack your initial foe. It can be infuriating at times when another play does something that seems to not be in either of your best interests. Usually if one player becomes very powerful the other players sit tight and see what happens next. Attacking each other when one player is dominating is suicide, but you must also know when you take that big guy down these temporary unspoken alliances with weaker players will quickly break down once the main threat is gone.
This is the main player screen. You can start a round with two or more players, but I really recommend at least 3.
This is a typical starting match. My player is red. Although you can’t see the other players military units, they have a 102 just like me at this point. Once they start attacking other planets it can be hard to keep track of how powerful they are. The 50% at the bottom right corner is your attack percentage. It can be changed from 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%. This is the percentage of units that will be deployed from a planet.
In this early stage of battle above white is already attacking blue. While you are playing you can double tap your planets to select all of them, and then single tap planets to deselect some.
The online play is what makes this a killer iPhone game, but there are also several other variations of game play against the AI. Oh did I mention there is also an online ranking system? I really hope the developer keeps updating this great app, and right now it’s only five dollars. If you are a gamer and looking for that killer iPhone game then look no further, I can’t recommend Galcon enough. If you don’t have an iPhone, there are also PC, Mac, and Linux version of this game. If I haven’t convinced you, try the demo.
iTunes App Store links